To begin, I will say I was apprehensive about coming to this place. It was located in a Holiday Inn and I never heard of it. This restaurant reinforced that you should never ever judge a book by its cover. I was taken here for my birthday and honestly want this place to be a part of my traditions for years to come.
When we arrived the restaurant was not crowded, the staff seated us quickly and were very enthusiastic. They brought over a collection of assorted breads, including homemade Irish soda bread which was warm. Needless to say, seconds were requested.
The menu was quite large and had many options, but my friend and I zeroed in on the steak options, which were impressive. They have prime meat including a porterhouse ($80) that can go toe to toe with the other steakhouses in the city. Since my friend and I spied the porterhouse at the bar on the way in we were intrigued and ordered it.
For an appetizer, we settled on the empanadas. To say these were the finest empanadas ($8) I've ever had is something special considering I have had many an empanada in the city and abroad. The crust was perfectly flaky and crispy and the meat was freshly ground with some melted cheese. It was served with salsa, guacamole and sour cream. I almost forgot that we have a steak coming, and nearly ordered a second helping.
Before the steak came a salad for two, which was solid. The restaurant did not have the largest selection of wines but what was offered was fantastic for the occasion. We ordered a bottle of house red (Cabernet) for $30.
After each course, the chef and owner of the restaurant came to our table to chat with us and inquire as to how the meal was. You could tell the immense satisfaction they had at serving food that we enjoyed eating. They lamented the fact that not many people knew about the place. While I wanted to keep this place hidden for my benefit, I really think that we as a city need to encourage more restaurants to operate like this one.
They really cared about our experience and made it a memorable one. When the steak came out it was on a large platter and it was massive. More than enough for two people. Furthermore the chef threw in mashed potatoes as well as the baked potato we ordered because ""he wanted us to try the mashed potatoes.""
The steak was perfectly cooked and was prime quality. I have eaten at every major steak house in NYC and would have no problem getting my porterhouses from Prime Cafe from now on.
Dessert was Junior's cheesecake with some additional chit chat from the owner who was extraordinarily pleasant.
This place is old school. They really care about whether you had a good meal and strive to ensure that happens. Service is attentive and top notch. The food is the real treat. Finally the value part cannot be ignored. We happened to have a 20% off coupon for this place, and our bill came to a very reasonable $125. The same meal at another steakhouse would have been in the 200s.
Bottom line, this place is worth it at the full price. You will not find a better value for your money without sacrificing either food quality or service.
As for the Holiday Inn location, you will smile to yourself as the clowns outside wait in line to get into the Ainsworth across the street. Don't miss out on your chance to try a gem in the city before you won't be able to get a table.
Pros: Fantastic food; Prime steak; friendly staff; great value
Cons: Getting over the fact it is located in a Holiday Inn